NEW DELHI: US President Donald Trump’s reported plans to pull out half of the 14,000 American troops currently based in Afghanistan has startled Afghan officials but left New Delhi, which has major projects in the country, unfazed.
Reports that Trump, whose Defense Secretary Jim Mattis quit in a huff over the withdrawal of troops from Syria on Thursday, planned to pull out some 7,000 troops from Afghanistan were not confirmed by US officials, although The New York Times quoted two separate sources as saying the President had already ordered the drawdown.
This has led to concerns that the Pakistan-backed Taliban, which has seen a resurgence of late, could now be in a position to dictate terms to the beleaguered Afghan government and attack the extensive Indian interests in the country.
While Afghan officials expressed surprise, President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri took to social media to claim it would not affect the security of the country.
An Indian official too said it did not necessarily mean the return of the Taliban.
“We are confident the Afghan government, and its people, will not allow that to happen, and nor will the rest of the world, including the US, stand by idly if that looked like a real possibility. The only way for the Taliban to return to power would be to give up arms and join the political mainstream. Yes, there will be some more Taliban attacks, but chances of them retaking Kabul by force like the last time are still bleak,” he said.
Defence secretary Mattis raps Syria policy, quits
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was livid when he learnt President Donald Trump had decided to withdraw troops from Syria.
For, it could mean the massacre of US-backed Kurdish militia by the Turks. He registered his disapproval in a strongly worded resignation letter.